Retinal artery occlusion (RAO) is an ophthalmologic emergency, leading to sudden vision loss. Understanding its risk factors and garnering information on the incidence of adverse events can provide helpful information on the cost-effective evaluation of patients and secondary prevention. In this retrospective cohort study, we used the Nationwide Readmission Database from 2016 to 2018 and queried the database to identify patients with RAO. The clinical outcomes were cumulative incidence of myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, death (in-hospital and 6 months after discharge), resource utilization, all-cause readmission at 6 months, and reasons for all-cause readmission. We identified a total of 14,527 patients with RAO. The mean age of patients with RAO was 69 ± 13 years. Hypertension (11,839, 82%), hyperlipidemia (8,868, 61%), ischemic cardiomyopathy (4,826, 33%), smoking (4,772, 33%), and diabetes (4,588, 32%) were common co-morbidities in patients with RAO. Of 14,527 patients with RAO, 308 patients (2.1%) died, 1,577 (10.9%) developed stroke, and 615 (4.2%) developed MI within 6 months. A total of 2,841 patients (24.9%) were readmitted within 6 months of discharge. Carotid artery stenosis (386, 10.8%) was the most common cause of readmission. History of stroke or transient ischemic attack and Elixhauser co-morbidity index ≥3 were predictors of stroke. Female gender, ischemic cardiomyopathy, carotid artery disease, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and cancer were predictors of MI. Cancer, chronic kidney disease, Elixhauser co-morbidity index ≥3, Medicare/Medicaid payer status, nonelective index admission, atrial fibrillation, and carotid artery disease were predictors of 6-month all-cause readmission. In conclusion, patients with RAO have a significant burden of co-morbidities, death, stroke, MI, and readmission. RAO may be used as a clinical marker of future stroke and MI, and should trigger screening for acute vascular ischemic events.
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